Conflict Between Therapeutic And Forensic Roles Of Psychologists

1446 words - 6 pages

The Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct, published by the American Psychological Association are the standard guidelines for all Psychologists. Forensic Psychologists are also informed by Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologist. Psychologists practicing forensic psychology can use these two documents to help clarify ethical questions. This paper will focus on role conflicts specifically in the area of Sex Offender Management and the ethical conflicts that may arise as a result and how to best handle this situation when faced with it. When an individual chooses to practice psychology within the legal system, they must be aware that this can at any point in their career ...view middle of the document...

In order to understand how this may be done, allow me to define Forensic Psychology. You see forensic psychology is the practice of psychology related to the legal system. This involves relationships with federal, local, and state law enforcement agencies; attorneys and the court; corrections and treatment facilities; and working with people whose behavior or situation leads them into involvement with the courts.
When working with this specific population mental health professionals are often called on to evaluate and manage sex offender’s behavior. There are also times when individuals may be asked to give an opinion as to if the offender will repeat the behavior. Often times people that work with this population are referred to as (SOSs) Sex Offender Specialists. They have a specific group of diverse training and background. Some of these trainings incIude but are not limited to cognitive-behavioral, psychopharmacological, and therapeutic orientations.
When working with Sex Offenders, dual roles does not appear to be as appreciated more specifically with assessment and treatment. Some people working with sex offenders may have a therapeutic role and some will have more of a forensic role. The therapeutic role performs the intake assessment, conducting group/or individual therapy, evaluating and reporting treatment progress, and psycho-pharmacological treatment. The forensic role is to assist a third party with the decision making process by addressing the psychological-legal issues. More specifically the forensic role consists of conducting presentencing/release assessments and Sexually Violent Predator Evaluations.
It is when these two roles become crossed that a number of problems may develop. I agree with the article that this may “impede a clients willingness to provide information necessary for either an effective intervention or an accurate forensic evaluation”; Expert Opinion Revisiting the “Irreconcilable conflict between Therapeutic and Forensic Roles Implications for sex offender specialists” Christmas Covell, Ph.D & Jennifer Wheeler, Ph.D. I have learned from my professional experience that if these boundaries are crossed then a series of problems may develop. An offender may be released before they are ready because the mental health professional is not able to remain bias, therefore allowing the sexual predator to reoffend. Then you also have the possibility of the mental health professional to report that the offender needs to remain in treatment facility longer than necessary because of things that were revealed to them in a session and because of what may have been discovered as a result of the forensic evaluation.
Forensic evaluators and treatment providers to sex offenders are already subject to major criticism by the legal system and at time the media. A professional in this field that serves a dual role is even more criticism. Everything about you and how you came to your decision is going to be...

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